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If you’re ready to go back to school but the thought of debt is holding you back, we’ve got good news: a debt-free education is possible. Dana Johnson attended college without student loans and launched @budgetadvisorblog to help others do the same. Below, she’s sharing her tips for hitting the books without borrowing.
What resources do you recommend for going back to school debt-free?
The best resource is talking with the school you want to attend and asking about scholarship and grant opportunities. They typically have the best idea of the available resources specific to your situation. I, regretfully, did not apply for scholarships during my first two years of college because I didn’t know about them. I wish I had spoken to someone. One more resource is a book I would recommend called "Debt-Free Degree" by Anthony O'Neal.
How do you budget on a student's income?
Write down all your monthly income (wages, scholarships, etc.) After that, list all your monthly expenses. If you want to go a step further, it helps to split them up as fixed and variable expenses. Total up your expenses (this includes tuition) to see how much your income covers. The goal of budgeting is to make sure your needs are covered first. If your spending is more than your income, see if any adjustments can be made to stick within your budget.
Any tips for finding scholarships and grants for school?
1. Start by applying for scholarships offered by your prospective school. The scholarship pool is specifically for their students, making your chances of winning one higher.
2. Work with your prospective school to find other scholarships. Usually this would be state-run scholarship funds that are specifically for people going to school in your state.
3. Think outside the box. A few other places to look for potential scholarships are professional associations, your current place of employment, and student clubs or memberships.
Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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